Nestled amidst the jagged peaks that tower over the thousands of square miles of National Forest, we do not give much thought to immediate trail riding access in Gunnison. Don’t get me wrong, we fully support IMBA, and every year volunteer for the cause, but recently I got a taste of what one in Denver must do to go for a ride.
Over the weekend, I rode Green Mountain for the first time, which for those of you not familiar w/ Denver is a large tree-less barren green hill (actually it is brown most of the time) that dominates the landscape on the northwestern part of town. An inter-lacing web of single and double track drapes over the many ridges and folds of the metropolitan riding area. Just to the west in the foothills is Red Rocks (famous for its concert venues), Dinosaur Ridge, and many hundred of miles of riding in Jefferson County. But for a quickie or nooner, this seems like the place; otherwise you are into urban riding, bike paths, or some seriously flat riding.
Looking to get in a good hill interval day, I set out looking for a trail to do my first ascent. Occasionally stopping to let riders pass coming the other way (you know the rule, the rider going uphill has the right of way), I asked for a verbal lay of the land from locals. Once I figured out my options, my first climb was from the main parking lot on the east side, that had some sweet steep single track and switchbacks. So I set out from the west parking area, and headed around the baseline trail. Rolling into the east parking lot, I located the climb I was looking for at the far end, and started my charge up. I forgot my heartrate monitor, so I just use the pounding of my heart in my head as a guage. After grinding that climb out on my single speed, another local pointed me to one of the better descents, and it dropped me back down the west side.
Near the bottom, I saw a steep road that went back up, and jumped on it. Nearly coming to a halt a few times on the way up, I kept the pedals slowly turning over; I was definitely paying my dues! No wonder the Denver guys can climb the fire roads at ski areas like no tomorrow! Back on top, I found a single track that I saw the first time I summited. It scurried the outline of the hilltop around from the westside about 100 meters below the ridgeline, back around to the eastside. It turned out to be pretty swoppy and fun, and at a T, I dropped down another trail that looked like it wnet on for a while only to find it was a dead-end into a neighborhood. After pulling a quick U-turn, It was back up to near the top, where I picked up the previous single track, and followed it around to the east. After catching a double track back to the top, I dropped into a sweet switchback trail that ran parallel to the first single track I climbed earlier. 2 hours later, and three times to the top, my ride finished on the lowest ribbon of trail that circumvented back around to the west side where I had parked with several other riders.
All in all it was a fun ride, but then again I only rode it once. Having this as an option, sometimes as an only option, I can only think of a gerbil running in its stationary wheel. But if you are ever in Denver and don’t know where to go, don’t have much time, and don’t want to get lost, this is a no-brainer.